Napa may be known for its wine, but the food is also extraordinary. There are nearly 30 Michelin-rated restaurants in the valley and an abundance of amazing eats featuring farm-to-table, fusion cuisine, and new twists on old classics. Even with COVID winding down, you’ll want to book these in advance, and pro tip: select restaurants closer to the wineries you’ll be visiting each day! Napa Valley is not that large, but it saves time and stress between tastings when you have a lunch/dinner reservation that’s close by.
- Farmstead at Long Meadow Ranch: This was probably my favorite restaurant with an amazing blend of southern and new American food that features produce from its own gardens. The pimento deviled eggs were to die for – I would go back for that alone – and they had a pea risotto-like dish that would make any 5-year-old beg for their veggies. Top the night off with their famous chocolate pie with homemade whipped cream.
- Goose and Gander: A restaurant on everyone’s list with delicious cocktails and its own farm that drives featured menu items. Goose and Gander had the best wedge salad I have ever tasted. Add in crafted burgers and duck fat fries, and do I need to say more? If you’re looking for something more relaxed and casual amidst Napa luxury, go here.
- Auberge du Soleil: And if you are looking for Napa luxury, and you haven’t been to a Michelin restaurant before, you’re going to want to give this one a try. Auberge du Soleil pairs unique flavors with an impeccable view and outstanding service. You can do a three-course or four-course dinner with an optional cheese course – all worth the steep price that comes with this luxury restaurant.
- Gott’s Roadside: If you didn’t stop at Gott’s, did you even go to Napa? Known as a burger joint, Gott’s will surprise you with atypical options like the Kimchi Burger or the Green Chili Burger. The tacos are a great quick bite, and we liked the cheese fries so much, we got two orders 😀 With two locations in Oxbow Market and outside St. Helena, stop here if you’re short on time between tastings.
- Bistro Don Giovanni: If there’s one food type I don’t like, it’s pasta. I hate it; it actually causes me to gag. But enter Don Giovanni, a completely open air Italian restaurant that has been a part of the Napa community for more than 20 years. Their Gnocchetti (small gnocchi) with lamb ragu was a must try for me that did not disappoint. I even loved Ryan’s lemon cream Ravioli – something I truly never thought I would ever say. Set up a late reservation, and swing by neighbor Ashes and Diamonds Winery beforehand for a very enjoyable evening.
- Mustards Grill: A Napa staple and solid lunch stop right off the main road for when you’re in between wineries. Billed as a “deluxe truck stop,” Mustards is another informal option if you want to keep things low-key. The adult grilled cheese was kicked up a notch by an apricot jam, and our host at Far Niente swore by the pork chop – an item we didn’t get to try but is on our list for the future.
There is no shortage of good eats in Napa, and we had a few of our local hosts at the wineries we visited provide some recommendations. We didn’t get to try these firsthand, but we will next time!
Bonus: Where to Stay
We stayed at the River Terrace Inn in Napa. It’s a small boutique hotel that has nice accommodations and is walkable to Oxbow Market (a food hall) and downtown Napa. It’s a good choice if you haven’t been to Napa before as it is so close to downtown shops and restaurants! Butttt if (when) we go back, I think we will stay at a B&B or inn in St. Helena (more centrally located and super cute downtown). We only walked to Oxbow Market once, so it wasn’t worth it to stay in downtown Napa when you’re out and about all day! Like real estate, you’ll want to consider location, location, location when you book your stay in the valley.
Stay tuned for the Napa winery recap, coming up next!